A Philly university offers new form of ‘higher’ education

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The University of the Sciences is offering a one-of-a-kind program focused on the business side of pot as it looks to create leaders in the medical marijuana industry.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states, and as demand for it continues to grow, so do the job opportunities, which is why the school is offering an MBA program focused on the industry.

“It’s an introduction to medical cannabis. It’s finance and regulation, it’s the marketing of it and it’s the development of some of the business planning and product development ideas in medical cannabis,” said Andrew Peterson, the executive director of the Substance Use Disorders Institute at the university.  

Peterson said this program is a first of its kind in the country. 

“The business side of it seemed like a natural for us, particularly with the pharmaceutical and health care business program,” he explained. 

“It is a first of its kind in the sense that, there are no programs that focus on the industry and the business,” added Erica Waldorf, assistant director of the school’s MBA program.

As more states legalize medical marijuana, the school thought it made sense to help prepare students for that field.

“These two industries are going to become aligned. We wanted to create something that appealed to our current students and really gave them an advantage in the market when they go out looking for jobs,” Waldorf said. 

Related:

University professors will teach the courses, but they’re bringing in industry experts to help lecture the students “Within the supply chain management, within the dispensary area, within the legal side,” Peterson said. 

Courses will focus on marijuana law, finance, marketing and industry trends.

“They really learn a lot about the business side, but also the research and development and regulatory side of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Waldorf. 

The program will also put a focus on cannabis law across the country.

“What is Pennsylvania doing, how does that compare to somebody else, and really, the insight is how do they differ and why,” Peterson added. 

Advisors with the program say most importantly, they want this program to open doors for their students when they hit the job market.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Pa. to cover surcharges for residents paying extra for water

HORSHAM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Residents around the Willow Grove Naval Air Station have been paying a surcharge on water bills to remove chemicals used on the base that seeped into groundwater. On Thursday, state officials announced they’re chipping in several million dollars to get rid of that surcharge. 

The chemicals, known as PFAS, were used in firefighting foam during training at the air base and leached into the water system. 

Related:

Horsham, Warrington and Warminster installed filters to remove the chemicals from their municipal water systems and get to what’s called a zero-detect standard, but it came at a cost: a surcharge of about $130 per year on residents’ water bills.

Pennsylvania Rep. Todd Stephens from Horsham joined Gov. Tom Wolf to announce $3.8-million from the state to get rid of those surcharges.

“It’ simply not fair to ask hard-working families — many of whom are dealing the potential health issues as a result of consuming the drinking water for so many years — to pay these costs,” said Stephens.

“Since they didn’t cause it, they shouldn’t have to pay for cleaning it up,” echoed the governor.

Horsham Council President Greg Nesbitt is grateful for the help from the state, but he said the federal government made the mess, and it should be the federal government cleaning it up.

“So this is not ‘mission accomplished,’ ” he said, “but it is a huge all caps ‘THANK YOU’ to at least check off one of the boxes that’s on a long list of to-do.”
 
The EPA continues to resist the zero-detect standard.

Stephens noted PFAS contamination reaches far beyond these three communities, but this helps what he calls the “ground-zero of the contamination.” The next mountain, he said, is blood tests for residents to get a true understanding of what effects the chemicals have had on them.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Pa. to cover water bills for residents paying PFAS surcharge

HORSHAM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Residents around the Willow Grove Naval Air Station have been paying a surcharge on water bills to remove chemicals used on the base that seeped into groundwater. On Thursday, state officials announced they’re chipping in several million dollars to get rid of that surcharge. 

The chemicals, known as PFAS, were used in firefighting foam during training at the air base and leached into the water system. 

Related:

Horsham, Warrington and Warminster installed filters to remove the chemicals from their municipal water systems and get to what’s called a zero-detect standard, but it came at a cost: a surcharge of about $130 per year on residents’ water bills.

Pennsylvania Rep. Todd Stephens from Horsham joined Gov. Tom Wolf to announce $3.8-million from the state to get rid of those surcharges.

“It’ simply not fair to ask hard-working families — many of whom are dealing the potential health issues as a result of consuming the drinking water for so many years — to pay these costs,” said Stephens.

“Since they didn’t cause it, they shouldn’t have to pay for cleaning it up,” echoed the governor.

Horsham Council President Greg Nesbitt is grateful for the help from the state, but he said the federal government made the mess, and it should be the federal government cleaning it up.

“So this is not ‘mission accomplished,’ ” he said, “but it is a huge all caps ‘THANK YOU’ to at least check off one of the boxes that’s on a long list of to-do.”
 
The EPA continues to resist the zero-detect standard.

Stephens noted PFAS contamination reaches far beyond these three communities, but this helps what he calls the “ground-zero of the contamination.” The next mountain, he said, is blood tests for residents to get a true understanding of what effects the chemicals have had on them.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

SEPTA GM will retire in December after 32-year career

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — SEPTA’s general manager is retiring at the end of the year.

Jeff Knueppel met with his top staff last week and told them that he planned to retire as general manager, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.

“He’s on vacation this week, so he wanted to meet with them before he left town,” Busch explained. Knueppel was not available for comment.

Knueppel has spent 32 years at SEPTA, serving as its chief engineer and deputy general manager before taking the general manager’s job in 2015. His retirement will take effect when his contract expires at the end of this year.

During his tenure, Knueppel guided the agency through the cracked-beam crisis on the Regional Rail fleet three years ago. He also implemented the safety feature known as positive train control, and he oversaw the prolonged — and ongoing — rollout of the SEPTA Key fare card.

Related:

Busch said Knueppel’s departure is not in any way related to reports that the FBI was investigating whether mid-level SEPTA managers were misusing funds.

“With the intention of retiring at the end of the year, those discussions had long predated those reports coming out,” he added.

Knueppel’s salary is about $320,000 a year. Busch said the SEPTA board is discussing potential general manager candidates to replace him. There are reports that PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards’ name is being floated.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Police search for woman accused of Brewerytown stabbing

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Detectives in Philadelphia are searching for the woman they say stabbed two others in Brewerytown earlier this week, one of whom died.

Authorities say women from two rival groups met up near 29th and Jefferson streets on Monday night.

“It’s chaos, as you could imagine,” said Homicide Capt. Jason Smith. “There aren’t nearly as many females in the other group — perhaps four to five — so they are certainly out numbered.” 

Related: 1 dead, 1 injured after stabbing police think was sparked by social media fight

Video shows a woman, who police believe is 19-year-old Tianna Thomas, driving a knife repeatedly into the victim, 23-year-old Shawntae Garrison.

“You can see Ms. Thomas standing on top of her, repeatedly stabbing her,” Smith said.

Garrison had several wounds to her chest, back and legs. She later died at Jefferson University Hospital from her injuries. 

Police say her 28-year-old sister was critically wounded. 

Smith urged Thomas to get a lawyer and turn herself in. As for the other women who were there, he said they’re not in the clear either.

“They would be charged with conspiracy and potentially charged with the same offenses: murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses,” he added. “However, I would surmise that cooperation would go a long way in helping them possibly reduce or avoid those charges.”

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Homeless man arrested for machete attack near Bala trail

BALA CYNWYD, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Typically, a morning walk down the Cynwyd Heritage Trail is a quiet one for Bobbie Epstein. But it wasn’t on Tuesday.

“As we were walking, we saw the police. There were six police cars coming in,” she said.

She saw clothes, garbage, other debris on the ground. She didn’t know what was going on, but learned after the fact that Lower Merion police were investigating a machete attack near the trail.

After releasing his picture and searching for him, authorities finally arrested the attacker on Wednesday, so people who frequent the Main Line trail can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Police said 25-year-old Romeo Gagliardi used a machete during a fight with another man around 4:30 Tuesday morning. Both, police say, are homeless.

Gagliardi, who police say resides by the Schuylkill River, ran off, and the victim was treated at Lankenau Medical Center for several cuts.

“There seem to be more and more people — homeless people — who are down by the river and camp a lot of times,” Epstein added Thursday morning on the trail. “It’s very sad, but it’s also very scary.”

Gagliardi is now facing several charges, including aggravated assault and terroristic threats.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Protesters ask officials to fix animal shelter problems

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Over the last few months, the Animal Care and Control Team has faced a deadly outbreak, the resignation of its executive director and a number of other issues, and people involved with the organization are taking to the streets, calling for officials for help.

A few dozen demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall Wednesday to protest the conditions and lack of staff and funding at ACCT.

“The building itself is literally crumbling to the ground. We do not have clean water for animals. There is no drainage, so we have feces and urine covering the floors that animals and people have to walk through,” explained Maria Termini, a volunteer at ACCT.

Termini says conditions are so bad they were forced to partially shutdown earlier this year when eight animals died of an infection that was able to spread because of inadequate housing.

“We had animals living in tents, in crates, out in the parking lot.”

However, the volunteers’ cries for help to city officials have fallen on deaf ears.

“They have chosen to turn a blind eye. The times that they have acknowledged, has been a lot of lip service, a lot of placating, but zero action,”

Related:

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy says he believes the shelter’s woes are being caused by operational issues, not money.

“The funding levels at ACCT have been consistent over the last year. We actually added about $100,000 this last year, and the conditions at ACCT this year, compared to the conditions at ACCT last year, are horrendous.

The city says they are working to fill positions essential to making sure ACCT runs better.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Chester City cop arrested for giving stolen Taser to man

DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Chester City police officer is charged with stealing a Taser from the department and giving it to a man who wasn’t allowed to have it. 

Donald Jackson, Jr., 44, is facing felony charges of theft and conspiracy. He allegedly took the Taser from the Chester Police Department, where he worked as a special project officer, and gave it to Nikolaos “Nik the Hat” Hatziefstathiou.

Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland said when detectives showed Jackson text messages they found on 25-year-old Hatziefstathiou’s phone, Jackson confessed.

“He admitted he had taken the police Taser from the Chester City Police Department and later delivered it to Hatziefstathiou,” Copeland added.

Police found text messages between the two from January, when Hatziefstathiou texted Jackson, “Know anyone I can borrow a taser from? I’m going to be in some bad areas while I’m down there this weekend.”

“I have one,” Jackson replied. “You can’t tell anyone where you got it though.”

Additional text messages show that Hatziefstathiou went to Jackson’s Delco home that night to get the Taser.

Jackson followed up about the Taser in April, to which Hatziefstathiou said, “Oh yeah! We have one more shoot was gonna use it just in case.” 

Police found the Taser in Hatziefstathiou’s Broomall home in June while serving a search warrant. 

That warrant was part of a wide-ranging investigation into Hatziefstathiou, including allegations that he forged an email from Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole Services, then posted it as a news story on his website, claiming probations officers in the county were racist.

He also posed as a Good Morning America producer and New York Times reporter to try to obtain government documents.

Hatziefstathiou has previous convictions of harassment and false reports to law enforcement — in one case, sending escorts to his neighbor’s home, then calling police.

“It’s disappointing when we have law enforcement officers use their position of trust and authority to obtain a weapon and then to transfer it illegally to a convicted criminal,” Copeland said.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Man: Roadblocks in obtaining records at Hahnemann

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The son of a former Hahnemann University Hospital patient says with the immanent closure of the hospital, getting a hold of his father’s medical records has been nearly impossible.  

“This is something that should have been thought out much further in advance,” said Konrad, who has been trying to obtain his deceased father’s medical records from the hospital for over a month.

“And when I called two days ago, I was informed that the medical records department was going to be shutting down this Friday.”

KYW Newsradio is unable to independently confirm the alleged closure of the medical records department because the company that owns the hospital, American Academic Health Systems, did not return several requests for comment.  

Related:

The department handles not just information about patient health procedures but also information such as birth and death records.

“I’m trusting that it’s not going to be just thrown on the curb, you know, because I’m sure there are HIPAA requirements that, you know, medical records, they have to be kept confidential. But, I mean, these are very important records that I think everyone would definitely want to have,” he said. 

Konrad said his father passed away in 2015 from metastatic prostate cancer and he wanted to look at his medical records to get a better understanding of what happened to him.

“Thinking about what he went through even now, it’s just still very painful,” he said.  

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Exclusive: Roadblocks in obtaining records at Hahnemann

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The son of a former Hahnemann University Hospital patient says with the imminent closure of the hospital, getting a hold of his father’s medical records has been nearly impossible.  

“This is something that should have been thought out much further in advance,” said Konrad, who has been trying to obtain his deceased father’s medical records from the hospital for over a month.

“And when I called two days ago, I was informed that the medical records department was going to be shutting down this Friday.”

KYW Newsradio is unable to independently confirm the alleged closure of the medical records department because the company that owns the hospital, American Academic Health Systems, did not return several requests for comment.  

Related:

The department handles not just information about patient health procedures but also information such as birth and death records.

“I’m trusting that it’s not going to be just thrown on the curb, you know, because I’m sure there are HIPAA requirements that, you know, medical records, they have to be kept confidential. But, I mean, these are very important records that I think everyone would definitely want to have,” he said. 

Konrad said his father passed away in 2015 from metastatic prostate cancer and he wanted to look at his medical records to get a better understanding of what happened to him.

“Thinking about what he went through even now, it’s just still very painful,” he said.  

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Feds urge public to identify victims in child porn case

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal authorities are reaching out to the public and asking for help in identifying alleged victims of child pornography coordinated by an accused serial sexual predator.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain and the FBI’s Philadelphia Division say 56-year-old Robert Dean Caesar manufactured child pornography. He was charged in November 2018 with the production, receipt and possession of child porn.

Caesar is currently in federal custody and is expected to go to trial on Sept. 30.

In January 2018, Pennsylvania State Police learned that Caesar was purchasing used boys’ underwear and bathing suits on eBay. Caesar was also accused of sexually abusing three young boys between 2015 and 2017. Prosecutors say he would hire or befriend them to assist with household and yard chores, or help care for his animals. 

He was charged at the time with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, among other charges.

During a subsequent search warrant, police found roughly 100,000 images and videos of child porn in his possession.

Federal authorities are now making a public plea, saying if you suspect that you or your child may have been victimized by Caesar, contact them at ReportRDC@fbi.gov or 215-418-4000. Identified victims may be eligible for certain services.

Voluntary responses may be used in the federal investigation.

Caesar has lived in Oxford, Philadelphia, Norristown, Cranberry Township, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richland, New York; and Silverthorne, Colorado.

If convicted, Caesar could face a minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to a maximum of 100 years, as well as a $1 million fine.

For more information on the investigation, click here

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Feds urge public to track down victims in child porn case

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal authorities are reaching out to the public and asking for help in identifying alleged victims of child pornography coordinated by an accused serial sexual predator.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain and the FBI’s Philadelphia Division say 56-year-old Robert Dean Caesar manufactured child pornography. He was charged in November 2018 with the production, receipt and possession of child porn.

Caesar is currently in federal custody and is expected to go to trial on Sept. 30.

In January 2018, Pennsylvania State Police learned that Caesar was purchasing used boys’ underwear and bathing suits on eBay. Caesar was also accused of sexually abusing three young boys between 2015 and 2017. Prosecutors say he would hire or befriend them to assist with household and yard chores, or help care for his animals. 

He was charged at the time with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, among other charges.

During a subsequent search warrant, police found roughly 100,000 images and videos of child porn in his possession.

Federal authorities are now making a public plea, saying if you suspect that you or your child may have been victimized by Caesar, contact them at ReportRDC@fbi.gov or 215-418-4000. Identified victims may be eligible for certain services.

Voluntary responses may be used in the federal investigation.

Caesar has lived in Oxford, Philadelphia, Norristown, Cranberry Township, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richland, New York; and Silverthorne, Colorado.

If convicted, Caesar could face a minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to a maximum of 100 years, as well as a $1 million fine.

For more information on the investigation, click here

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Residents try to return to normal after Nicetown shootout

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — One week after the shootout in Nicetown-Tioga, neighbors are still trying to find some normalcy to their lives. 

Anthony Fields was sitting on the porch greeting his neighbors on what appeared to be a quiet, normal weekday morning. But beneath the surface, there is a lot going on.

“We’re definitely still feeling stress. They’re still having conversations about it. Life is not back to normal,” Fields said. 

Less than a month after moving in to his home on 15th Street, Anthony found himself dodging bullets and hiding in an upstairs bedroom as a gunman wounded six cops and held what seemed like half the force at bay for nearly eight hours.  

It was an experience that he and his neighbors will never forget. 

“I can’t, man. I never heard so much gunshots and I can’t forget this,” said Kenuity, who is reminded of the horror by the bullet holes in his front window and shutters. 

He said the images of that day haunt his dreams. 

“I go to my bed and I dream the whole thing over, I just wake up. It’s something you can’t forget, you just can’t forget it.”

The memories are still fresh, and emotions, including shock, terror, bewilderment and even some anger, are still raw.  

Related:

Cynthia Muse doesn’t like the way some people are treating her street like Disneyland.  

“You have people riding down the block like, last night I was sitting outside, maybe 10 or 11. And the guy came past, ‘Oh, is that where it’s at?’ You could hear him all the way up here,” she said. 

Neighbors have planned a block party for this weekend in hopes of advancing the healing process. 

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Downingtown priest allegedly stole nearly $100K from church

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A priest in Chester County is charged with stealing from his Downingtown parish. 

Prosecutors say 56-year-old Joseph McLoone stole $98,405 from St. Joseph Parish, nearly $40,000 of which came from the All Souls collection — money donated by parishioners in memory of loved ones who’d died.

“That was given by the parishioners to the church either through the All Souls collection through payments made for weddings, funerals, that kind of stuff,” added prosecutor Charles Gaza. “He was taking that money and diverting it into a private account that he had set up.”

McLoone is accused of withdrawing more than $45,000 from that activity account. According to court documents, investigators say the money was spent on food and travel — including his Ocean City beach house — and to pay credit cards. 

The documents also say McLoone sent about $3,000 from that private account directly to men he’d met on Grindr and had sexual relationships with.

McLoone took over as pastor at St. Joseph in 2011 for Monsignor William Lynn, after Lynn was indicted for protecting predator priests. He was removed last spring when the investigation began.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

You can finally add money, check fare balance on SEPTA app

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — SEPTA riders can now use their smartphones to check the balance and add money to their fare cards — yes, really.

It’s a feature that commuters have been clamoring for since SEPTA Key’s introduction three years ago.

Commuter have frequently complained that there was no mobile way to check how many trips were remaining on their cards, or what their Travel Wallet balances were.

“Those are some things that we heard from customers about not being to access that information on the go,” added SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.

Now, you can access all of that information on the SEPTA app, rather than the previous methods of sifting through the SEPTA Key website or schlepping to a kiosk to view or manage your balance.

Currently, there are 1.2 million SEPTA Key cards in circulation, and about 200,000 downloads of the SEPTA app among Android and iPhone users.  

However, riders still cannot use a cellphone to pay for their SEPTA fare. Busch affirmed that function is in the works.

more Philly News (For Your Information)